Cemeteries are important keys to Texas’ past. They are reminders of settlement patterns and reveal information about historic events, religion, lifestyles, and genealogy. Unfortunately, historic cemeteries are increasingly threatened by development pressures, encroachment, vandalism, and theft. Circumstances can change quickly—a cemetery considered maintained and safe can quickly become neglected and endangered. To address the problem of cemetery destruction and to record as many cemeteries as possible, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) offers the Historic Texas Cemetery (HTC) designation.
The HTC designation was developed in 1998 to help protect historic cemeteries by recording cemetery boundaries in county deed records to alert present and future owners of land adjacent to the cemetery of its existence. The HTC designation is the first step toward preservation of a historic cemetery.
The HTC designation is an official recognition of family and community graveyards. The designation imposes no restrictions on private owners’ use of the land adjacent to the cemetery or the daily operations of the cemetery. For additional information see Texas Administrative Code Title 13, Part 2, Chapter 22 Rule §22.6.
The HTC designation is required prior to application for an optional interpretive marker and participation in the RIP Guardian network. The designation is an important tool for preservation of an endangered cemetery.
A cemetery is eligible for designation if it is at least 50 years old and is deemed worthy of recognition for its historical associations. The very nature of a cemetery being a landmark of a family’s or community’s presence is considered to validate the criteria of historical associations. Any individual, organization, or agency may submit a request for designation.
Download the Preserving Historic Cemeteries.